Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My perfect reader

Last night I met the perfect reader. I don't know her name or who she was but she was in the hot tub at the apartment clubhouse where MM and I were soaking off the hurts of our last run.

This woman, I'll call her MPR for my perfect reader, was a bit chubby. Okay, she was more than a bit chubby but so what? Because she slid into the hot tub across from us and she was holding a book.

A book! In the hot tub!

She sat down, in that churning water, with all of that steam, and opened her book and began to read. I could tell that she was enjoying herself, too.

What she was reading isn't important. It's the fact that she was reading, and that she held the book so carefully above the water, as to not get the pages damp. And sitting there I thought: I want someone to read my book in a hot tub. I want them to not be able to put it down. I want them to carry it with them to the bathroom and the supermarket. I want them to sleep with it beside their pillow (as I so often sleep with my books) because they can't part with it, even as they dream.

I hope someone loses my book, too. Because have you ever found a book somewhere, picked it up an knew, without a doubt, that it was meant for you, that it had been patiently waiting there for you to find it?

Years ago I found a tattered copy of Susan Kenney's In Another Country at a rest stop in Washington state.

I knew it was meant for me. I picked it up, sat there in that dead grass and read for hours. I was transfixed; I couldn't put it down.

What I'm saying is that I want my book to be used. I want it torn and crumbled, damp and food-smudged, the poor binding cracked and worn. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, I believe that books only come alive when they are loved.

And what am I loving right now? Poison, by Kathrn Harrison (Oh, Kathryn, I love you so! Or at least I love your writing so!).

Hope everyone is reading, and writing, books and poems and stories they truly love.